1 October 2021
Kunlun Red Star 3 Dynamo Moscow 5
Many expected this game to be a foregone conclusion. The history books show that the Dragons have never defeated Dynamo, and you have to go back to 2017 to find a game that went to overtime. Moving up to date, our visitor has the most potent offense in the league, led by free-scoring captain Vadim Shipachyov, while our defense has allowed more goals than any other.
But stats and record books only mean so much. Ivano Zanatta’s team showed no interest in reputation here, blazing into the opposition from the start and jumping to a 2-0 lead in barely seven minutes. First came a big moment for Yang Hu. His first KHL goal, fired home from the left-hand circle in the third minute, gave Red Star that all-important early boost. Defenseman Ryan Sproul, playing his 100th game for the team tonight, was the architect of the play, moving down the right and firing the puck into the middle, where Chris Seto steered it onto Hu’s stick.
And that was only the start. Five minutes later, Tyler Wong was taking the battle to veteran goalie Alexander Yeryomenko. Twice, the Dynamo man shut the door, but the third time saw Wong double our lead.
Of course, there’s no room for complacency against an opponent as dangerous as Dynamo, and the visitor reminded us why we had to show every respect with a fightback to tie the scores in the first period. Andrei Pedan reduced the arrears when he fired a shot through a crowd of players midway through the opening frame. If Pedan seems like a familiar name, by the way, you’d be thinking of his brother Ruslan, who played for the Dragons last season and is now at Amur. Then came a power play, and Shipachyov setting up Stas Galiyev to make it 2-2.
In the second period, Dynamo quickly got ahead on an Eric O’Dell goal. For many teams, that would be the cue to give up. Red Star, though, does things differently and tied the game up within minutes. This started with a strong forecheck from Luke Lockhart’s line, turning over the puck on our blue line and releasing Spencer Foo for a mazy run down the ice and a shot that brought his fourth goal of the season.
For the rest of the frame, Red Star gave as good as it got, and Dynamo had no reason to feel aggrieved that this game was very much alive as the third period started with the score locked at 3-3. Sadly, penalty trouble at the start of the third cost us dear. Foo and Brandon Yip followed each other into the box at an interval of just seven seconds, and the clock ticked just four more times before Galiyev scored his second of the night on that 5-on-3 advantage. That left a long 4-on-5 penalty kill, but the Dragons dug in. Dynamo was unable to set up its power play again, and there was even a great chance for a short-handed equalizer when Luke Lockhart got clear of the visiting defense only to be halted by Yeryomenko.
A hard-working home performance was arguably worth at least a point, but a fourth goal was not forthcoming. Instead, an empty net marker from Mikhail Fisenko – unselfishly created by Galiyev, who might have shot for his own hat-trick – sealed the win for Dynamo. While the result went to the visitor, though, the quality of hockey Kunlun produced against one of the strongest teams in the KHL feels like something of a moral victory for our boys.